Understanding the academic year

It is important that you understand whether you are a new or continuing student and your academic year, so that you:

  • complete the correct forms
  • receive the correct funding

Completing the wrong forms can lead to delays in your student finance being paid.

Which academic year are you?

The academic year which applies to you, depends on your course start date for that year.

You’ll be in academic year 2020 to 2021 if your course starts between:

  • 1 August 2020 and 31 July 2021

You’ll be in academic year 2019 to 2020 if your course starts between:

  • 1 August 2019 and 31 July 2020

Check with your university or college if you’re unsure which academic year you fall under.

When the academic year starts and ends

There are 4 official start dates in each academic year with each lasting 12 months. You can find the one which applies to you based on:

  • which academic year you fall under
  • your course start date
If your course starts between: Your academic year will run from:

1 August – 31 December

1 September – 31 August

1 January – 31 March

1 January – 31 December

1 April – 30 June

1 April – 31 March

1 July– 31 July

1 July – 30 June

For the majority of students, each academic year will run from 1 September to 31 August. However, if your course starts later in the academic year, be mindful of this when completing any forms. For example:

  • a course starting on 10 April 2020 will be within the 2019 to 2020 academic year running from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.

Check with your university or college if you’re unsure about your course start date.

Circumstances around new and continuing students

In most cases it’s easy to identify yourself as being a new or continuing student. However, there are circumstances which need to be clarified so you find the correct information and forms.

You’ll be classed as a new student if you:

  • are studying for the first time
  • are starting a part-time Initial Teacher Education (ITE) course which lasts less than 2 years, for example, a PGCE course on or after 1 August 2020
  • have changed your course from full-time to part-time (mode of study change)
  • have withdrawn from your most recent course

You’ll be classed as a continuing student if you:

  • have taken a break from your course (not withdrawn) and are returning within 2 academic years
  • have completed a lower level qualification (HNC, HND, CertHE, DipHE, Foundation Degree or ordinary degree without Honours) as a part-time student and are going on to an Honours degree part-time without a break in studies. This is known as an end on course.

If you’re unsure about the forms to complete based on any of these or other circumstances, contact us to discuss this further.



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